overdose

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Hundreds of Rhode Islanders have died from drug overdoses this year – a number that has barely budged from last year, despite numerous state and other efforts to stop it. One of Governor Raimondo’s initiatives was to convene a task force to tackle this crisis. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

A new General Assembly session is underway, and already the House and Senate are casting votes on critical issues. Rhode Island Public Radio’s Kristin Gourlay has been checking in with leaders in both bodies to find out what their health care legislation priorities are. 

Aaron Read / RIPR

Lawmakers and advocates are applauding the speed with which the general assembly has taken up the Good Samaritan Law.

The state senate voted to renew the law, which provides legal protection for those calling 9-1-1 in the event of an overdose emergency. However, the bill does not protect those found to be delivering or selling drugs.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Brown University’s medical school has teamed up with Rhode Island Hospital to teach future doctors how to address opioid addiction and overdose. They’re using a nearly $1million federal dollar grant to create a new curriculum.

And the need could not be more urgent. Just last week the Centers for Disease Control reported that half a million Americans have died from accidental drug overdoses in the past 15 years, mostly involving prescription painkillers and increasingly heroin.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Health department officials have a plan to compel more doctors to use a prescription drug monitoring program. That’s one piece of the effort to fight opioid addiction and overdose.

A prescription drug monitoring program, or PDMP, is an online database. It’s supposed to help anyone who prescribes controlled substances like painkillers or anxiety medications look up a patient’s history with those drugs. The idea is to spot signs of trouble, like dangerous drug combinations, or addiction. 

RI Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force

To tackle an epidemic at the population level, you need data. Lots and lots of data. That's especially true with our state, and our nation's, opioid addiction and overdose death epidemic. Scientists need to know who's using? Where? When? Why? How do they get started? Who supplies them? What else were they taking when they died? What are the other factors in their lives or communities contributing to the problem? 

Rhode Island’s health department is looking for help encouraging doctors to use a database that monitors prescription drugs. The department is adding four new positions to a new team to fight addiction and overdose.

Rhode Island received a four-year, nearly $4 million dollar grant earlier this year to fight rising rates of addiction and overdose deaths. Now the department of health is ready to put that money to use, hiring four new staffers. First, an outreach coordinator to help promote the state’s prescription drug monitoring program.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy is in town speaking with the addiction and mental health community. 

Kennedy has been advocating for better and more accessible treatment for addiction and mental illness for years. In 2013 he launched the Kennedy Forum to help focus those efforts.

RI Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force

Can Rhode Island cut opioid deaths by a third in three years? That’s the goal of the state’s new strategic plan on addiction and overdose.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The governor’s Overdose Prevention and Intervention Task Force holds its next public meeting Wednesday morning to present the beginnings of a plan to combat overdose deaths.

Law enforcement officials are turning to the courts as they look to turn the tide on a drug overdose epidemic. Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin says it will be increasingly common to bring murder charges against drug dealers and manufacturers involved in an overdose death.

“We actually have a case right now regarding a fentanyl death," said Kilmartin. "And that’s in the court process. And we’ll see what the outcome of the case is. It’s the first case ever prosecuted in the state like that so we’re hopeful.”

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

The price of a medication that can reverse a drug overdose has doubled over the past year. Now Rhode Island  will be getting a small break in the price of Narcan (the brand name for naloxone).               

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

There are a couple of medications on the market now to help people who are addicted to heroin or prescription painkillers – methadone and Suboxone (the trade name for buprenorphine). But obtaining the latter can sometimes be a challenge. A community discussion planned for tonight delves into efforts to improve access.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

 Accidental drug overdoses kill more Rhode Islanders than car accidents, or any other kind of accident. And that’s been the trend for a while now. But there’s new energy – and new resources – to help combat this public health problem. This week on The Pulse, Rhode Island Public Radio’s Kristin Gourlay chats with news director Elisabeth Harrison about the state’s new overdose prevention work and the federal dollars that could help sustain it.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Rhode Island’s department of health will once again release weekly statistics on accidental drug overdose deaths – instead of monthly. The department has struggled to whittle down a backlog of investigations while keeping the public informed.

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